Cyclist attacked on East Liberty Blvd–Memorial Day weekend

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Lyle
Participant
#

Too dark for helmet cam or phone cam, I think. Definitely wasn’t time to dig out the phone and stand there like a weenie pointing it at eight criminals. I think the best plan is just get the hell out of there.


Noah Mustion
Participant
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Damn Lyle it was EIGHT people? Shit.


cburch
Participant
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this is getting beyond stupid. i don’t even know what to say.


Noah Mustion
Participant
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Time to get these cycle officers on the streets NOW. The police spokesman was being quite coy about their apparent plans to tackle this problem (why?) so I hope that means they actually have a plan together… it’s summer which means it’s only going to get worse, and people are already getting hurt every weekend, it’s time to round up these SOBs.


Lyle
Participant
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I say eight, it was more than four and less than 12. Could have been five. At least one was female, and knowing boys, the others were undoubtedly showing off for her. I think only two or three were actually chasing. I wasn’t making a careful count.

I think the cmdr was keeping his cards close to his vest for a good reason. Let’s not speculate further in public.

I felt kind of silly being all paranoid and shit. Until they started chasing. And I wouldn’t have known enough to BE paranoid if not for this forum. So, I guess I owe BP and Justin a debt. And I am glad this happened to me and not someone slow.


saltm513
Participant
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damn, yah. Someone slow like me. And I just got back from riding there thru EL on Highland. Was with someone else though. I don’t go out at night by myself like I used to. Again, debt to Justin and BP. So glad you’re okay, Lyle.


unixd0rk
Participant
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GREAT JOB CALLING THE COPS


quizbot
Participant
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The cop at the meeting tonight mentioned that pepper spray & tasers are ok to carry for defense.

Residents were concerned that cyclists are riding without lights at night around here, but considering the circumstances, it’s probably wise to not advertise your presence. It’s your call. Elsewhere, get some lights.

Another point to emphasize: if you feel threatened by ANY behavior that you witness or experience, call 911. Don’t be shy, call 911 ASAP. Zone 5 really wants to get to the bottom of this.

The meeting was good, I think we won some support in the community… one old guy complained early on that we were talking for 30 minutes without getting anywhere, but came out of it with a ‘well, if it’s happening to the bikers, it’s our concern too’ attitude.


stefb
Participant
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where can i get a taser (bro)?


Noah Mustion
Participant
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My take is, at this point, even if you’re getting verbally harassed, call 911. Because now people are being physically attacked, so the verbal harassment isn’t just a “shrug it off” type thing. For all we know it could be same SOBs who ghost-rode into Justin. Anything to get them caught.


brian j
Participant
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Lyle, around what time were you harassed? I passed through that area around 8:00-ish, and again at 9:45, on my way to and from the climbing gym. There was a group of kids on the corner of ELB and Frankstown/Broad on my way home, but I was on the scooter, so I was moving with the flow of traffic, and they didn’t say anything to me.


Kordite
Participant
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> The cop at the meeting tonight mentioned that pepper spray & tasers are ok to carry for defense.

So are firearms if you are licensed to carry.


Lyle
Participant
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9:44


Swalfoort
Participant
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Wow! Lyle, I am very sorry to hear of your experience. I rode through that very intersection about an hour before you did, and didn’t see a soul — I was definitely watching any and all cars, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. The thought that a single (and slow) woman riding East Liberty Boulevard at dusk was probably not the best idea in the world did occur to me, but just a little too late.

I thought the meeting went well. I believe that Zone 5 is sincere in its statements that they want this problem solved as much as we do, and that they have a plan to do someting creative that will permit them to approach the problem in new ways.. I believe that the (non-cycling) residents at the meeting came away a little better educated as to the cyclist perspective on traffic laws, safety, etc. Several came up to me after the meeting and said good things. I think this meeting created some goodwill in the community at large, if only among the two dozen or so residents there. I also believe that Patrick Dowd’s presence at the meeting means that the value of this meeting was not just a one time discussion with the Zone 5 police, but the start of a an on-going dialogue with the City and the Police on matters of cyclist safety.

It was a good meeting. Thanks to the two dozen or so cyclists who stayed for the meeting. I think the police and the residents were impressed by the numbers and the calm demeanor with which the discussion took place.


brian j
Participant
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9:44

Apparently the same group, then. Yeesh.


saltm513
Participant
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sigh. firearms?? I must have either come too late to hear that, not have heard it through the echos, or chosen to block it out. I’m pretty grieved by a form of violent response. IMO I’m not okay that that’s okay.


Pierce
Participant
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Well riding home from work should be interesting tonight. Maybe I’ll just ride around and take a different route. Has anybody seen the group well enough to remember any faces? Has anybody thought of looking at a Peabody yearbook? There’s a good chance that’s the high school they go to.


brian j
Participant
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So Pierce brings up a good question–that of alternate routes. Has anyone had issues riding through the Highland Avenue corridor within Penn Circle?


ccrider
Participant
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Wow, just minutes after that rather positive Zone 5 meeting and cyclists are already being singled out by hoodlums. Sorry to hear this Lyle and it was great to meet you on the ride and at the meeting last night (rode next to you on ELB, I was on the white rocky mountain cross). Good thing you called the cops. I’d recommend contacting Dowd’s office directly (there’s an e-form on his site) or calling. He seems very engaged in whats going on (last night and at Tazzo the Thurs before) and he’ll want to hear this. It might also help get this up on the Zone 5 commander’s radar.

I thought last night’s meeting was rather positive and I’m hopeful the city will be able to catch the three thugs who are hurting cyclists and pedestrians. My guess is these three are just the tip of the iceberg .

It was great meeting all the folks who did the pre ride before the Zone 5 meeting and the turn out was great (approximately 25-30 folks, approximately doubled the attendence of the meeting).

I talked for several minutes afterwards with the older lady who was complaining alot about “young kids without lights/reflectors wearing dark clothes”. She was actually very sweet and very positive, particularly when she saw my blinkie setup. She thanked us all for coming out and encouraged us to attend more meetings. I think the residents at the meeting, in general, were very receptive to have us there and to hear our concerns.


Kordite
Participant
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> I’m pretty grieved by a form of violent response.

Pepper spray can be as effective against the user as against an attacker. Tasers are useless if you have more than one attacker. Stun guns you have to allow them to get right up on you and, again, with multiple attackers you’re pretty much done.

Unless you run away, these are all violent options and sometimes, especially as the number of attackers increase, you simply can’t run away. Speaking from experience, sometimes a firearm is the least violent option, setting attackers to flight by its mere presence.


reddan
Keymaster
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I won’t get into the pros and cons of various forms of violent self defense. However, I will ask one thing of anyone who chooses to carry any form of such: PLEASE get practice/training in how to use it properly. One of the most effective ways to make a bad situation worse is to pull a weapon and use it ineffectually, or on the wrong target…


BradQ
Participant
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> The cop at the meeting tonight mentioned that pepper spray & tasers are ok to carry for defense.

So are firearms if you are licensed to carry.

FWIW Kordite, Pennsylvania is an open-carry state. You need a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed firearm, but technically you can walk around Dirty Harry style with your gun on your hip as long as you are the legal owner and you do not walk into a school, Post Office or other Federal building. You cannot be charged in court with brandishing simply for having it visible on your hip, even if the police aren’t that well informed of the laws and may decide to arrest you for it anyway.

I’m not really advocating such things, but since it was brought up figured it would be worth mentioning.

http://paopencarry.org/

Please don’t flame me. I didn’t make the laws or the website.


Nick D
Participant
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Also, although PA is an open-carry state. It is almost always frowned upon (by law enforcement and citizens).

For anyone interested in responsible firearm ownership, head over to PAFOA


unixd0rk
Participant
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oh sweet, i’ll buy a taser. problem solved!


unixd0rk
Participant
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regarding alternate routes:

honestly, i had a problem with the ELB lanes when they were put in. great idea for “traffic shaping”, horrible idea for bike commuting. people go 65mph on there in their cars! now they just have one lane and a bike lane to swerve across while doing those speeds. i’d rather see that as a parking lane for the whole stretch and clear off parking on highland ave and put in a bike lane there. i mean, that’s where i see people biking most often.

use highland. use euclid to penn circle. you won’t have as many problems with cars OR punks.

if you want to ride anywhere else in that area at night and don’t want to get screwed with, turn off your “hey i’m on a bike and headed your way!” front light that will alert punks to your existence blocks and blocks before you’ll ever see them. even then, use caution and pay attention.


Kordite
Participant
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I don’t recommend open carry, either. I think it’s suitable for things like hunting or going to the shooting range or protecting your business but it is inappropriate for walking around the street, riding a bike or attending political rallies.


quizbot
Participant
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@unixdork – you should also be leery of Highland after a pedestrian assault on June 6th. Multiple fractures, kids laughing as they did it, no robbery, just beating the shit out of someone for kicks. Same M.O. as the assault on Justin, likely the same bunch of punks.

Good idea to turn off lights. I also don’t recommend carrying weapons (other than having cannons for thighs), just wanted to mention that the cop brought it up for those who may feel so inclined.


brian j
Participant
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As I mentioned in (maybe) this thread, my wife was hassled on Euclid. Not the same group, but there are plenty of miscreants to go around.

I think the route takeaway is “there are no good routes through East Liberty if you are at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Quizbot, did the commander mentioned when the assault took place on Highland? My experience is that Highland has a bit more traffic than ELB, thus making it a bit harder for kids to just out into the street and tackle someone.


Pierce
Participant
#

Bah. So they’re attempting to attack on Broad St too? That was my alternate route idea.

I’m coming into town from Frankstown so I could drop off Frankstown on 5th avenue, head south to Penn, then ride Penn to Negley, but I don’t think Negley is overly safe either. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure how safe Penn is after I go over the East Busway.

Bah, it just seems like a big pain in the ass to do all that

“My experience is that Highland has a bit more traffic than ELB, thus making it a bit harder for kids to just out into the street and tackle someone.”

Justin was attacked near? Peabody, which seems closish? to that gas station. Not sure how much traffic it would take to deter these kids.


quizbot
Participant
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@bjanaszekpgh police blotter for sunday the 6th shows Aggravated Assault, 600 block N Highland Ave, 12:40am. I think it was up around the seminary.

There was also someone shot in the shoulder on thursday the 3rd, but I dont have any more details on that other than that there were 2 arrests in connection with the shooting.

All of this bullshit is happening within .25 mi of my house… not liking it one bit.


brian j
Participant
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Yeah, that would be the block with the seminary and Peabody.

Very crappy.


saltm513
Participant
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Yah, Broad can be a bit shady. I had a scary encounter there a couple years back (was chased on foot for a stretch when I was out for a run), so be cautious.

I personally would really like to see more lighting along this stretch of Highland, between EL blvd and Stanton. It’s between this stretch that I feel most unsafe, and it’s just really dark at night. I feel like EL is generally otherwise relatively well-lit on Highland.


salty
Participant
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yeah – shit, i’ve been telling people i’m happy to ride on highland any hour of the day or night, as long as i stay away from negley… now that feels like wishful thinking at best.


sarah_q
Participant
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The stretch of Highland between Penn and ELB is sketchy during the day sometimes. The condition of the road there is atrocious, so at night it would be hard to watch for large fissures in the concrete plus potential bad situations around you too.


brian j
Participant
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And the intersection of Highland and Penn is equally tricky, given the poor lane markings and atrocious road surface. Throw in pedestrians who don’t really pay attention to much of anything, and it is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, due to the aforementioned elements, traffic moves relatively slowly through that area.


Noah Mustion
Participant
#

Ugh. Highland between Penn and ELB is a total clustf**k. Really bad potholes (like the skinny kind that want to suck in your wheel and flip you), cars that dart out willy-nilly from the side streets apparently without looking, and all kinds of sketchiness going on all around.


Mick
Participant
#

I was stuck on Highland, just north of Penn, with maybe 12 or 20 kids going wild one Saturday at about 3 in the afternoon. There was still snow, so it was February or early March. Still pretty warm.

Just kids getting rowdy and showing off. Mostly they looked 14 to 16 years old. These weren’t particularly hoodlum-like kids. Just kids. Some racial component to it- the kids were all black and the people they were harassing white.

A guy ran out from the sidewalk towards me. Maybe 14 years old, 120 lbs – 75 lbs less than me. At first I thought it was just an unobservant pedestrian so I turned away from him (mistake, see below). He raised he fist as though to hit me and backed off at the last second.

On one hand, this seems a little like “just fooling.” It really is a guy checking out a cyclist to see how easy they would be to roll. How to do it.

A rehearsal, as it were.

I had my B.O.B. trailer – the dayglo flag was stolen from it. Made me slower. I had seen a person throw something – I think maybe a brick at a car and the car driver stopped. I was ready to ID the perp if police came around.

The guy whose car was hit pulled out his cell phone. A kid instantly grabbed it and ran. Standard Operating Procedure, I’m guessing. Be careful pulling out a cell phone.

I bailed.

***

A long while back, I read a suggestion for defense if you are on your bike and being attacked by people on foot. I used it. I’m hesitant to recommend it.

Basically, unless you can clearly get cleanly away, don’t try to get away.

Point your bike directly at an individual. (Not “the group.” One person.) Pedal as aggressively as you can, and let THEM be the one to get away.

I got a chance to try it out about a month after I read it. Reynolds Street, just east of the Frick Museum, midnight on a Saturday, 4 or 5 large kids spread out on the street as though to block me.

They had aggressive posture. Lined out on the road, crouched like boxers, hands out like basketball point guards. Like “OK, dude. TRY to get past us.”

I picked one near the middle. A little smaller than the others. My target.

I sped up. Pointed directly at him.

At 10 feet, it looked a little iffy. For a moment, I thought that it just couldn’t work. I started to shake.

But I stood up on my pedals. I flipped my dim, inadequite headlight up to point in my target’s face. I could see the moment my target realized that I was headed directly at him.

Not him-and-his-buddies. Him.

He ran behind another guy. I tracked him. Both of them, he and the guy he ran behind, pushed a third guy out of the way to make their escape.

After I passed them, one of them shouted “Hey man! You almost hit me!”

It was gratifying.

***

Good points: 1) A person on a bicycle, with a helmet, cuts a profile like they weigh a lot more than they actaully do. Like 30% to 50% more. 2) It’s hard to stand your ground when something that isn’t small closes towards you at a fast running pace. More so when the light is pointed at you. 3) They won’t be chasing you after you pass. Really.

Bad points:

Bad point #1) So you’re 50% bigger on your bike? I’m pretty big to start with (5’11, 195) not everyone is. A 110 lb person against 180lb teens is out of luck.

Bad point #2) there were 4 or 5 guys when I tried it. The groups of kids I’ve seen around East liberty tend to be more like 8, 10, 12, 20. There is chance that they could NOT physically get out of your way, no matter how much they would like to.

Bad point #3) You have to keep going. Even if you injure someone or they injure you. Stop and you are soooo stomped.

Bad point #4) Danger of escalation. I’m guessing that the guys carrying firearms in East Liberty aren’t fussing with penny-assed rolling of bike riders, but you never know.

Bad point #5) MAJOR BAD POINT. When I had my experience, it was the mid 1990’s. The guys were looking to roll a pedestrian or two and then saw a nerd with a bike light. A bike was a surprise. The response most people would give to a bike then and there would be WTF?

The ELB kids KNOW bikes. Saltm talked about someone running out at her and breaking off. Same thing has happened to me – a few times.

Those were rehearsals.

These guys know how bikes move. They’ve talked with each other about how to attack a biker. They’ve had practice. And success.

My guys were pushovers.

****

Practical points:

1) If I go through East Liberty at night, I’ll turn off my headlight. No sense in letting them see A) how I’m moving and B) I’m a geek.

But I set that light to point at the eyes. I’m ready to turn it on again quickly.

At just the right moment, a bright blinking light pointed at the eyes might give you 2 seconds – if you are very lucky. It will likely cause a 3/4 second’s confusion.

At 10 mph, 2 seconds is 28 ft and 3/4 second is 11 ft. “Gimme three steps, mister…”

2) A loud shout will help. An “I’m-gonna-kill-you” scream is more effective than an “I’m-being-attacked” scream.

3) If someone runs at you, they want to push you over and beat you until you are hospitalized.

Just being realistic.

A person can push you over from the side. If you manage to point towards them, they can’t push you over. (Easier said than done.) If you point right at them? They will move out of the way.

4) I put my u-lock where I can grab it fast. I’m ready to throw it like a frisbee, if I have to.

5)For bad neighborhoods in general. Wad up a bunch of $1 bills in your pocket. Don’t have anything else in that pocket.

If you have to run and you are afraid you can’t run fast enough? Let them chase 5 or 10 one-dollar bills on the road, not you. Not one punk in 100 is gonna leave the cash to come get you.

Well worth the money.

***

It’s only a matter of time until we see trouble-makers ON bikes.


edmonds59
Participant
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I appear to be 50% bigger on a bike than I actually am? No wonder I haven’t much troubles, people must think there’s a freaking rhinocerous coming at them.


ckrobinson
Participant
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I know this thread has been beaten like a dead horse, but I really feel like I have to put in my 2 cents. I grew up in the east end back in the 90’s when the gang shit was really big. I’ve been held up at gunpoint (for a bike when I was 12), I’ve been jumped, and I’ve been robbed, all during my teenage years. A few things I have learned over the years.

1. The police are never where you need them to be.

2. You cannot rationalize with teenagers, especially when they are boys and they are roaming in packs.

3. Most of these kids are probably 12-16. While they may be menacing and sometimes dangerous, their bark is worse than thier bite. If they were real hard asses, they wouldn’t be wasting their time fucking with some cracker on a bike. Hell, they’re not even robbing people.

4. BB guns these days look pretty similar to real guns.

5. Being passive usually makes you a victim.

6. It is your right to protect yourself.

It’s important to make the police aware of the issues at hand, and taking it to the community is positive also, but realize that change may not occur, or at least quickly. Until things improve, I think everyone that rides through these problematic areas needs to be prepared for such encounters, or avoid riding though these areas at all costs. Like I said earlier, being passive can make you a victim. I think part of these attacks involve cyclists because cyclists typically are passive, and the other previous attacks haven’t resulted in much fight back from the victims (at least from what I gathered). If you encounter some of these punks and you can’t get away, don’t be passive – they feed on that and they’ll just give it to you more. Bust one persons nose and you’ll see them split because that’s not what they bargained for – we’re supposed to be easy pickins. If you are comfortable doing so, protect yourself. And like another person mentioned, make sure you know how to use whatever you may choose. A weapon in unsure hands can quickly be turned against you.


Shred303
Participant
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Maybe this bicycle thing isn’t such a good idea. Maybe we should go back to riding around in our cars with the doors locked, windows rolled up and air conditioning on.

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